Hiker Lost For Four Days on Appalachian Trail

A 39-year-old, local high school teacher was lost for four days after falling and breaking his leg while hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Will Henderson, an experienced hiker and member of the National Hiking Association, had been hiking along the Appalachian trail, but decided to get off the trail near Gregory Bald. He hiked off the trail for a couple hours and then decided to cross a stream where he slipped and broke his leg.

“I broke the first rule of hiking, of course. I hiked alone,” Henderson said.

He made a splint for his leg and spent the next four days crawling and pushing his 40 pound backpack ahead of him trying to get back to the main part of the trail. His motivation to crawl for as long as he did was knowing he had a wife and two daughters waiting for him at home.

“I had several pictures of my wife and two little girls,” he said. “I would spend a little time looking at those pictures, and then I would crawl a little bit more.”

Henderson breathed a sigh of relief when he was found by two other hikers.

“I’ll never forget the feeling I had when they found me, not if I live to be a hundred,” he said. “Those guys are going to get mentioned in my will.”

Will Henderson was immediately brought to the hospital in Knoxville, but is now back home recovering in a local hospital. He still intends to hike the entire Appalachian trail, spanning nearly 3,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, as soon as his leg heals.

“My goal is to still hike the entire trail, but I guess I’ll have to wait until I get my leg in shape,” Henderson said.

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